Ivy Tech, IU see leadership changes in 2013; more to come this year

  • Jan. 6, 2014

By Jon Blau

Following a year when several Ivy Tech chancellors announced their departures, the community college is considering consolidation of administrative personnel across campuses.

Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart announced in November he’d be leaving the college in 2014 after a dozen years at the helm, followed by Chancellor James F. Helms in Lawrenceburg. Steve Tincher, the chancellor for the Richmond region, was reassigned to Ivy Tech’s headquarters in Indianapolis as vice president for business and public services.

President Tom Snyder said Tuesday the community college is considering creating regional administrative offices and “CEOs” that would oversee more than one campus, the “beta” being the northwest region, which is made up by the South Bend and Gary campuses. It’s too early to know how such a model would affect Bloomington’s campus, or if it will be pursued, Snyder said, because the issue will be discussed this month during a meeting of the college’s state board of trustees.

The system does need a way to recoup costs, though. With a $4 million cut looming in the second half of the year because of Gov. Mike Pence’s call for state institutions to cut 2 percent from their budgets, officials at Ivy Tech are contemplating how to rebalance an organization that has expanded its student population but lacks full-time professors and academic advisers.

The student-adviser ratio at Ivy Tech is still 1,200 to 1, a number so out-of-balance the college pushed forward with a restructuring of its academic model, creating meta-majors to help students “self-advise” with the help of an automated, online system, which is scheduled to begin in fall 2014. Pence’s budget cut represents dozens of academic advisers the college can’t afford to lose, but Snyder said he doesn’t think the college can’t easily reduce chancellor and administrative salaries in a competitive market for higher education, either.

One solution could be reorganization of the college’s administrative assets into regions, brought on by what Snyder called “organic” changes with the retirements of Whikehart and Helms and Tincher’s move to Indianapolis. Brad Thurmond is the interim chancellor in Bloomington, but Snyder said no decisions have been made on how to proceed with a search for a full-time replacement as the college considers what responsibilities that person would have.

“As we make changes, we want the right people in the right positions,” Snyder said. “We have great talent in these regions, and talent is something we have to protect.”

Money has been a constant issue for Ivy Tech, which still needs to raise about $4 million for a $24 million expansion of the main academic building on Bloomington’s campus. Whikehart, who is becoming deputy mayor for Bloomington in 2014, is expected to play a role with the capital campaign.

One of the challenges community colleges face, which Snyder said was exemplified by Cindy Simon Skjodt’s $40 million donation to renovate Indiana University’s Assembly Hall, is that big-money donors like to give money to their alma maters. That leaves community colleges hard-pressed to find funding sources, despite the the mission of the system to promote the retention and graduation of “skilled specialists” for Indiana’s workforce, Snyder said.

“We are going to have to do a better job of getting the communities to buy in,” he said.

Indiana University

IU welcomed new leadership during 2013. Lee Feinstein became the first dean for the School of Global and International Studies, and then Austen Parrish was hired as the first full-time dean of the Maurer School of Law since Lauren Robel moved to the provost position.

Feinstein, formerly the ambassador to Poland, will have two former members of Congress in his department as professors of practice -- Rep. Lee Hamilton and Sen. Richard Lugar.

On the other hand, the creation of the new Media School at IU by a trustees vote in October leaves IU looking for another leader. The “MSchool” dean will take over the remnants of the School of Journalism and the departments of communication and culture and telecommunication, a merger that caused a tremendous amount of debate ahead of the trustees’ vote, but will most likely report to Executive Dean Larry Singell of the College of Arts and Sciences.

How to honor Ernie Pyle, the WWII journalist who had his name affixed to the hall serving journalism at IU, is also a question that is moving forward with a “legacy” committee consisting of historians and journalism figures and alums. President Michael McRobbie promised during the trustees meeting that Pyle would be honored in some fashion in Franklin Hall, the Media School’s new home, but nobody knows what that will mean as of yet.

Another looming issue is parking. While the board of trustees sided with Chief Financial Office MaryFrances McCourt, deciding not to proceed with selling the university’s parking assets in October, McCourt has been tasked with finding a way to optimize the bottom line, if parking privatization is to be tabled completely. The trustees are scheduled to revisit the parking issue during their February meeting.

 Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.